Archive for May, 2011

Clues in Ty’s World

May 31, 2011

Continuing from the previous post…

Ty struggles to read non verbal signals.? If Ty is talking excessively and you are bored out of your gourde ? he won?t notice.? If you attempt to ignore him to send the ?I am done? signal, he won?t register it.? (I actually watched Darin attempt to do that once and I laughed watching as Ty escalated his antics.? That was never going to work and I had to explain that later to Darin).? If you frown at something he says in an attempt to get him to quit his current course, he?ll never see it.??? If he says something rude and your expression suggests that he better be quiet immediately, I would recommend you save the non verbal clues and put words to your thoughts because he will not recognize your expression as a non verbal way of saying ?stop talking!?.? Because Ty has difficulty reading the emotions on your face, he can?t interpret them in a way that is going to lead to action on his part.

 

In an earlier section, I referenced the poor outcomes associated to Tanner and Ty playing legos together because I described they would each have a different agenda.? Tanner to build and get satisfaction out of his creation.? Ty to destroy (because things falling apart are funny to him).

 

There is even more to that then I earlier described.?? Because Ty doesn?t get the same sense of satisfaction from ?success? that Tanner does, he struggles to make sense of another person?s need for it.?? When Ty destroys something that Tanner worked hard on (or kills off his own character when they are playing on the same team thus causing him and Tanner to lose the game), he doesn?t understand how that makes Tanner feel because winning or creating is not on Ty?s scope.? If a person doesn?t feel a particular ?thrill of success?, it makes it difficult to applaud the efforts of others or even have any appreciation for their wins.? Ty?s ?attacks? on property or violation of game rules are often seen as intentional or mean spirited.? They are not.? More so, Ty has no idea that YOU perceived them as mean spirited and that doesn?t even make sense to him at all.

 

Have you ever had a conversation with someone and later found out that they had their feelings hurt by something?? Later in discussion with a listening ear, you relate that you are having trouble empathizing with the other person’s side because you cannot figure out for the life of you how they came to the conclusion they did in the first place??? If we find their position ridiculous, it makes it really hard for us to offer validation or empathy.? If Ty were to consider it (which he doesn?t), I think that would be a fair description of Ty?s side of things.?? Why should he feel bad that he just killed his character off thus causing Tanner and himself to lose the game?? Why did Tanner care about winning the game in the first place?? That wasn?t fun or interesting.? Killing the character was much more entertaining.? Ergo?no empathy.

Now if that don’t make you smile….

Love that lion outfit and clearly – so did Grady.? King of the hill.

This little guy was a trooper – happy and sleepy and oh so deliciously moldable.? :)

Isn’t he a happy one?

Such a sweet little guy.? He gave me my baby fix while we are waiting waiting waiting waiting.?? So nice to meet you Grady – I hated to see you leave because that was awfully nice snuggle time we had.? :)

My mother has always teased that my brother Daniel is an emotional thermometer.? He will walk into a room and take the emotional temperature of everyone it.? Unlike Ty, Daniel pays close attention to the emotions at play in a room.

 

Picking up on non verbal social clues is a very important life skill.? Children with social spectrum issues lack the ability to do that and it can put them at a serious disadvantage when trying to socialize with others because they can?t ?read? what another person wants or needs.

 

Ty has learned what a mad face looks like or a sad face but I don?t think he really gets it on an intrinsic level ? it is more of an intellectual knowledge.? I know this because he doesn?t respond accordingly.

 

If I am having a hard day and am crying on the couch, Tori will be all over it.? She will be patting me, asking me why I am crying, trying to cuddle me, watching me like a hawk.? She associates tears to grief and responds accordingly.? This comes natural to her.?? Tanner is not as verbose as Tori but he will demonstrate that he too has acknowledged my sadness and will be gentle of spirit with me.

 

Ty will approach me, study my face in bewilderment and then say ?Mommy can I have a snack??.? It doesn?t register.? In fact, he appears confused by it.

 

He is often confused by my anger as well.? I can have steam pouring out my ears and Ty will look at me wide eyed in confusion.? Sometimes he will smile.? Sometimes he will have a ?deer in the headlight? expression because he is trying to process and he isn?t making sense of it.? Sometimes he seems oblivious entirely (which tends to escalate me because folks it is very frustrating to be mad about something and have another person not recognize it).

 

Of all the things I would take back as a parent, it would be my many attempts at trying to make sure Ty understood my emotions when I was failing to recognize that I was asking something of him that he could NOT give to me.? I wish I could tell you that I never do that anymore but sometimes, my human flesh rises above what I know and I act out in utter frustration.? Coming to understand this over the course of time as a spectrum issue has helped me to cope with it and respond in a more loving way.? Jim and I are still learning all this and some days we are less successful at patience and tolerance than others.

 

Along the same lines, one can?t expect Ty to look genuinely ?ashamed? or ?sorry? for an action.? It VERY rarely happens.? Once in awhile I will see a look on his face that resembles shame but I think there is a better explanation even for that.? Example:? Ty has been told he can?t take a cookie off the counter.? He takes one.? He then looks at me wide eyed which I like to consider as a look of shame ? as in ? he recognizes what he did was wrong and is concerned about the consequences.

 

Rightly evaluated though, I don?t think he is feeling ?sorry?.? I think he is impulsive and sometimes when he acts on impulse he does recognize as soon as he did it that he wasn?t supposed to and you see a ?wooops? on his face.? This isn?t really an emotional reaction though.? It is an acknowledgment that he just broke a rule and he may get in trouble for it.

 

Jim and I had a comical discussion the night after Jim and I had our big talk about Asperger?s where we were debating back and forth the merit of an evaluation.?? In the midst of that talk, I became quite emotional.? I am a pretty left brained person but when I am with my SERIOUSLY left brained husband I tend to pull right.?? Jim?s pragmatic approach to everything that is so void of emotion leaves me making the emotional argument if for balance if nothing else.? ?When I went to bed that night I was still crying and Jim made no move to comfort me.? As I laid in bed, the light bulb went off in my head.? After nearly seventeen years of marriage I finally had a break through of mercy for my sweet spouse.? I recognized at long last that Jim could NOT give me what I needed.? He lacked the ability to do so.? For the greater part of my marriage I have complained to him about isolation in my grief because I could come up with no explanation as to why he could not offer the comfort/empathy that I needed at times.? I think many males (due to common left brained tendencies) struggle with this but Jim particularly so.? Jim is not an emotional person and he struggles to empathize because of it.? In fact, this is a good time to point out that many of Ty?s attributes are common to many people to varying degrees. ?The thing that qualifies Ty for a disorder though is both the sheer number of disorders and the magnitude of them (in consideration to the degree that they limit him) because both are so outside of the norm.?? As I laid there considering what I know of my son and what I know of my husband, I recognized that Jim could not reach out to me emotionally or physically because he honestly could not see/feel/understand what I needed from him.? I also acknowledged that if I stood in the gap for Jim, just like I do for my child, I could walk over the love bridge and reach out my arms to him and he WOULD fold me in (and he did).? I had to actually tell him and demonstrate what I needed.? ?This is where my dad would now say ?Doni I have been telling you this for years?.? The difference is, my father and all my brothers have more of a left/right mix and I can speak the language of emotion to them so therefore it has always been harder for me to see this as a ?can?t? as opposed to ?won?t?.

 

So the next evening, Jim and I were reviewing things from a place with more perspective and Jim says to me ?You know I laid awake last night wondering if your grand plan was to get ME into a psychologist for an Asperger?s diagnosis!??? LOL!!!!!?? I told him that I was very tempted.? Jim admitted that he feels he has a good 50% of Ty?s symptoms when it comes to social issues.? All that know Jim well would probably agree with that statement – hee hee.

 

I hope that as you have been following this mini book on life with Ty that it will serve to educate you on how to love people beyond the scope of Ty.? Like I said, Ty?s issues (in and of themselves) are surprisingly common.? They are only uncommon to the degree of their extremities.? A lot can be learned though by recognizing what another person is equipped to give and what they are not and learning to live lovingly and with tolerance for those things.

 

I am actually not finished with this section but I will divide it up into another portion because this topic is getting lengthy.

 

How You Can Help?

 

I would not suggest you go to Ty seeking empathy (or Jim either).?? Don?t expect Ty to be able to read the emotions on your face.? Put words to your thoughts so that he can hear you.

For reasons that I cannot explain, Obsessive Compulsive Behavior is often a co-morbid condition alongside spectrum issues (or maybe it is a condition on the spectrum ? not sure how that is defined).? Ty does not have an extreme case of OCD.? The predominant areas we see it exercised are associated to his areas of special interest – food and electronics.

 

I try my best to keep Ty out of my kitchen.? The child CANNOT keep his hands off food on counter tops.? Cannot.? This is a daily issue.? If he sees it, the urge to touch and taste are powerful.

 

If he sees a button, he must press.

 

I bought a Flashmaster to help Ty learn his math facts.? Math facts are difficult for Ty in the conceptual understanding so we rely on rote memorization.? I have had to learn that memorizing math facts without truly understanding the concept of the math is very difficult.? It is memorizing a bunch of number sequences and that is no small feat.? I have been beyond exasperated because Ty has the tendency to compulsively press buttons before he has arrived at the right answer.? (Actually, this has very little to do with buttons because Ty compulsively answers verbal questions inaccurately the first time and THEN thinks and self corrects very frequently).

 

He was getting miserable scores on his math practice because I could not get him to wait until he knew the answer before he pushed the button.? One day, trying to teach him math concepts, we were rehearsing counting up and counting down.?? ?3 + 5 = 8.? Do it this way.? Count up 3.? Say out loud ? 6 ? 7 ? 8.? The answer is 8.? It took us some practice but he learned those steps and can now count up and backward (at least for his 3s).? ?I was delighted to discover that I had stumbled on a way to deter the compulsion.? When he counts up out loud it distracts him from button pushing.? When he has the answer and has said it out loud, he enters the correct one. He is now scoring in the 90s consistently on addition and subtraction of his 3 table all on his own.? Wooohooo!!! ?We went through weeks fighting this compulsion so I was so excited to learn a new method of getting around an OCD issue.

 

How You Can Help?

I would not suggest taking Ty to eat at places like Yogurtology nor any open buffet style dining establishment.?? He wanted yogurt recently and I went into panic mode when we walked into Yogurtology (inconveniently located down the street from us) and I took notice of the LONG bar of toppings easily accessible by small children.? That was a challenge.

 

I have addressed the use of your cell phone and electronics already.? Compulsive button pushing may cause you some interesting technological difficulties.? If you choose to loan your equipment to Ty, I would appreciate it if you sign a waiver agreeing not to hold us accountable for the use of internet bill hee hee.?? My good friend Erin told me recently that Ty asked her for her email address.? She gave it to him.? When he then asked for her password, she thought twice.? Smart gal that Erin.

Ty:? Knock knock.

 

Me:? Who?s there?

 

Ty:? Milk.

 

Me:? Milk who?

 

Ty:? Milk and a hair brush!??? HHHHHAAAAAA HAAAAAAA!

 

And he doubles over laughing never noticing that I have a bewildered expression upon my face.? Ty has no concept of punch lines but he loves what he interprets as a joke just the same.

 

Ty also has no concept of sarcasm (and that is often funny all by itself).? I catch myself making sarcastic comments to the kids (being funny so I think) and Ty takes me seriously.? Tanner is usually the one to say ?Ty ? mommy is being funny!? What she meant was?.?

 

He also takes things literally.? I can?t think of a specific example right now but Jim and I have giggled at the way Ty interprets common idioms sometimes.? I was really surprised when he did pick up the contextual clues of an idiom this week.? I told him to ?hold his horses? and he doubled over laughing and laughing at the expression.? When I asked him if he knew what I meant he thought about it and then said ?wait?.? Typically speaking, Ty doesn?t figure it out but I think few things with Ty are ?always true? ? just ?mostly? true.

 

Anything that is slapstick humor will have Ty rolling with laughter.? I could almost say that ?laughter? is one of Ty?s special interests as well.? He pursues what makes him laugh.? You will see this with the scenes that he plays over and over on a movie and with the injuries the he creates for his Xbox characters.? If the person falls or trips he will have to replay it hundreds of times and it will never get old.

 

How You Can Help?

 

Just laugh.? If Ty makes some random statement to you and then doubles over laughing, he is probably quoting a movie line.? ?You smell like beef and cheese.? You don?t smell like Santa.? ? (Elf)

Update added later:? Ty is teaching Tori to tell jokes.

Tori:?? Why is the couch outside?

Doni:? Huh?

Tori:? No!? You have to say “Why is the couch outside?”

Doni:? Oh.? Okay.? Why is the couch outside?

Tori:? Because it wanted to be in the parking lot.? (Cue laughter)